Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer in The Cities

It's 9:30 am. I've been up for a couple of hours, even had a shower, but you wouldn't know that now. I'm sitting here utterly dripping wet with a towel on my table to keep my arms from soaking the table top, and all I've done is to feed birds and make myself a cup of tea. Still, I'm very happy to have done that since this summer has been devoted to recovering from a bilateral knee replacement done at the beginning of July. I'm now walking around the house (where the ground is level) without crutches and thinking seriously of when I'll be able to get back on a horse. That's probably not for a while yet. I'm happy to wait until the temperatures drop to at least about 34C/93F...that's about 5 degrees C lower than they are now.

It hasn't been a boring summer, despite the time spent recovering from surgery. For the first few weeks, I couldn't sit in a normal chair with any comfort and was checking my email on my laptop from a battered old lazyboy chair donated by a friend. That wasn't bad, but a laptop REALLY heats up your lap and virgin naugahyde doesn't exactly dissipate heat, so computer work was necessarily short and sweet. Once I was able to sit up for some lengths of time (and another wonderful friend found me a lapboard to help insulate my healing knee incisions from the fiery laptop) I started transcribing my father's journals for friends and family. My father was an interesting character who worked in many capacities but primarily as a computer modeling expert for the US Department of Defense...back in the days when being a modeling expert also meant inventing most of what you needed to do it with. When he retired, he moved up to British Columbia where my sister was attending university for a while and helped to set up the internet in the Pacific Northwest. He died in 1978 and his journals ended up with my sister who sent them to me in New York this spring when I was visiting my kids there. As children we always knew that our dad did something that the US Navy didn't want him talking about. (No fears there, Navy folk...he even took his secrecy stuff seriously in the journals.) We knew he worked on the Space Program some, but really other than as a guy who loved talking, camping, fishing, hiking and taking a nap on a Saturday afternoon, we didn't know a lot about our father. So this is a labour of love for me.

Before I did my surgery, I spent some time with my kids in New York. My daughter was taking a break after her comprehensives and we found ourselves wandering over the lower portions of Manhattan running errands and doing shopping. Our peregrinations took us near the site of the new Muslim community center that suddenly became the source of such vitriol lately. I must confess to being utterly bewildered by the willingness of certain portions of the media to whip Americans into a fearful frenzy over nothing at all. I think many of the hate-mongering reports, especially from Fox (can't call it "news" when most of what they say has no basis in fact) are horrifying. I must confess that the fact that Rupert Murdoch is comfortable with a Saudi partner who is helping to fund the community center SHOULD give some of the protesters pause. The manipulation is just a bit obvious but no one seems to want to see it. As someone old enough to remember changes in US laws about race and women, old enough to remember the aftermath of the imprisonment of US citizens because they happened to be Japanese (many second generation) during WWII, I wonder if American society is actually making any progress at all in becoming what it could be.

Of course life in Egypt continues to provide wonder, bewilderment, and the odd hearty laugh. Recently the art world was rocked with the news that thieves had made off with a $50 million Van Gogh painting of a vase of flowers from the Mahmoud Khalil museum in Giza. It wasn't a difficult theft since none of the alarms in the museum and only seven of the forty-three security cameras were working at the time. This morning's news item about the government's plans to build a nuclear reactor to take up the power needs not met by natural gas and oil just below the assessment of the security at the museum left me gasping. We can't keep the security at a museum up to par and we are supposed to be comfortable with a nuclear reactor? I don't think so. And why in heaven's name isn't Egypt a forerunner in solar energy...with about 360 days of sunshine what couldn't we run on solar energy?

The world is a puzzling place.

copyright 2010 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani